Fierce clashes erupt outside Libyan capital Tripoli

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 21, 2019

"We have made clear that we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement issued earlier this month. No more details were available immediately.

Residents of the city said they could hear sustained rocket and artillery fire in several districts of Tripoli on Saturday, after several days of stalemate on the ground.

The spokesman for the GNA's military operation, Mustafa Al-Mejye, said their forces had launched a new phase of attack now, adding that orders were given early Saturday morning to advance and gain ground.

Members of the Libyan internationally recognised government forces are seen at Khallat Farjan area in Tripoli, Libya April 20, 2019.

Gen Haftar's troops are advancing from various directions on the outskirts of the city and say they have seized Tripoli's worldwide airport.

President Donald Trump turned things on their head this week praising Khalifa Haftar for fighting terrorism and protecting Libya's oil reserve.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russian Federation said they could not support a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya at this time. General Haftar's forces are pressing a military assault on the capital Tripoli in opposition to Libya's internationally recognised government.

Ignoring appeals from the United Nations for a stronger US diplomatic engagement, mainly to restrain Haftar's foreign supporters, President Trump had shown little interest in engaging in Libya, saying in April 2017 that there is "no role" for the United States military beyond combating jihadis who threaten America.

Russian Federation insisted on having no criticism of Haftar in the proposed resolution while the United States said it wanted more time to consider the situation, diplomats said.

"The powers that support terrorism in Libya are France, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE", said Abdelrizaq Musherib, a protester.

Citing Libyan and French officials, several media reports claim Paris supports Haftar with weaponry, training, intelligence and special forces assistance.

As a result of Haftar's offensive, in April the USA military withdrew a small number of troops from Libya that had been performing diplomatic and counter-terrorism missions against ISIS, citing "increased unrest in Libya".

Does this mean Trump backs Haftar?

"We want civilian rule and freedom".

In July, French President Emmanuel Macron and Trump told reporters they "share the same intentions regarding Libya", Foreign Affairs reported. The foreign ministers of France and Italy also said they are trying to forge a common strategy on Libya.

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